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Sport24.co.za | Jake: SA Rugby should heed Ramaphosa’s advice

Cape Town – Former Springbok coach Jake White says SA Rugby should heed advice from South Africa’s new President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa delivered his inaugural State of the Nation address in Cape Town last Friday.

This followed the resignation of former President Jacob Zuma, who stepped down after being recalled by the African National Congress (ANC).

White, who currently coaches Japanese side Toyota Verblitz, took note of Ramaphosa’s speech and feels several of the points raised can be applied for the greater good of South African rugby.

“SA Rugby should almost copy and paste his speech and swap political terms with words like ‘rugby’, ‘schools’, ‘clubs’, ‘players’ and ‘administrators’,” White wrote via a column for the All Out Rugby website.

White continued: “He said his words were not lip service and that things would be measured, and he spoke about taking ownership of that. And that’s exactly what we need in SA Rugby – people taking ownership and responsibility for getting it right.

“The President said he’s not going to tolerate corruption and one of the things that resonated with me is that he said no government member is going to be involved in procurement. Instead, there will be a special committee to deal with procurement. It should be the same in our rugby – no jobs for pals.”

White also hinted that the rugby governing body should bring in new personnel.

“We’re all eager to see who the President appoints to work with him in rolling out his plans and we’re all hopeful he’ll pick the best people for the job. It shouldn’t be any different in SA Rugby – hiring the best people for the job and having the people in charge who take responsibility for achieving the objectives. He spoke about transformation, equality and getting the most out of the youth. That goes hand in hand with rugby.”

CLICK HERE to read Jake White’s full column on the All Out Rugby website

In December last year, White had also hit out at SA Rugby top brass when he called for a full review of its board. White questioned that Allister Coetzee, who was subsequently sacked as Springbok coach, should not carry all the blame for the team’s woes.

Coetzee won only 11 of 25 Tests in charge of the national team (44% win-ratio) and was relieved of his duties earlier this month.

White also criticised SA Rugby for hiring people “without even asking them to apply for positions”.

The 54-year-old coached the Springboks between 2004 and 2007, but his contract was not renewed despite winning the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

He has also coach the Brumbies, Sharks and Montpellier.

Sport24.co.za | Swys ‘relieved’ with ‘sweet’ Lions win

2018-02-19 08:31

Lloyd Burnard

Cape Town – It was far from a clinical performance, but Lions coach Swys de Bruin is satisfied with his side’s 26-19 win over the Sharks at Ellis Park on Saturday. 

In what was De Bruin’s first match as head coach since taking over from Johan Ackermann, the Lions were not at their best. 

There were still periods of the attacking enterprise that has been a hallmark of their game in recent seasons, but struggles at the lineout as well as an inability to look after the ball meant that the Sharks were always in the contest. 

The visitors didn’t have their best day at the office either as they lost six scrums on their own ball, slipped 29 tackles and were also let down by their handling at crucial stages. 

Despite the struggles of both sides, it was the Lions who came out on top in a match that certainly did not lack in entertainment value. 

The result means that the Lions have now beaten the Sharks in all of the last seven Super Rugby matches between the sides, and De Bruin acknowledged afterwards that there was something sweet about getting one over the men from KwaZulu-Natal. 

“Warren (Whiteley) is from the Bluff there (in Durban), I lived there for 12 years and I think Rudolf Straeuli (Lions CEO) still owns half of Durban,” De Bruin joked.

“It is very sweet to beat the Sharks, I must admit.”

Going into the match, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Lions and how they would gel under their new head coach. 

The concerns were intensified by a lack of match preparation leading up to the start of the tournament, with a friendly against the Bulls their only public outing. 

De Bruin acknowledged that there had been worries over the lack of preparation, and while he described his side as “rusty”, he has now been given a solid base to launch from as the 2016 and 2017 tournament runners-ups prepare to host the Jaguares this weekend. 

“Very pleased and relieved … that’s the first reaction,” De Bruin said.

“We did go in a bit underdone into this game. That was the long discussion we had with our leadership group.

“We asked for character and it came through.”

Perhaps the most pleasing aspect for De Bruin and the Lions would have been their defensive performance in the last 10-15 minutes of the match. 

The Sharks, with their tails up, hit the hosts hard with a series of attacks that threatened numerous times to get them over the line. 

The Lions, though, found something from somewhere and their defence held firm as first substitute loose forward Hacjivah Dayimani and then Marnus Schoeman forced crucial turnovers. 

“The last bit, when Hacjivah came on and stole that ball … for him as a youngster, he doesn’t realise how huge that was and the same as Marnus Schoeman when he was under the sticks when he got hands on the ball,” said De Bruin.

“If you can win those small margin calls then we’re happy.”

Sport24.co.za | Lions’ message: We’re NOT on the wane!

Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Phew … job done.

Those are likely to have been the dominant sentiments of Lions coach Swys de Bruin and his Stormers counterpart Robbie Fleck after the franchises got their Super Rugby 2018 campaigns off to winning starts on Saturday.

Far from flawless in either the Ellis Park or Newlands triumphs, both teams were pushed hard – by the Sharks and Jaguares respectively – in round one and would not have shed too many tears about earning “standard” victories rather than ones with bonus points.

The Lions, tournament runners-up for each of the last two seasons, were camped on their own line when the final whistle sounded on a compelling derby (26-19), the Sharks having the well-earned consolation of a losing log point for ending within seven points.

If anything in Cape Town, where a disappointing first-day crowd of 18 000 would have sent a shiver down the spines of officials at crisis-plagued WP Rugby, the 28-20 outcome slightly flattered the Stormers, who had to repel a fierce second-half onslaught from the Argentineans.

Certainly the better game – no surprise considering the later start on the Highveld and the gruelling afternoon heat further south? – was the all-SA affair, leaving many observers, no doubt, steadfast in their belief that the Lions and Sharks may very well carry our flag the most spiritedly in the competition this year.

Yes, the men from Durban are nought from one, but will hardly be discouraged at this infant stage after going toe to toe with Warren Whiteley’s outfit, and have a fortnight now to sharpen up for the visit to the unenviable KwaZulu-Natal summer humidity of the Waratahs as they are the only side on a bye next weekend.

They will also be mindful that if they could run the Lions so close in the Big Smoke, there is every reason to feel hopeful they can level things up in the home return fixture in late June.

Although there were other, pleasing aspects to Saturday’s bruising but high-tempo tussle, it basically boiled down, in the final analysis, to the clear superiority of the Lions scrum being enough to trump the dominance of the Sharks’ lineout.

The hosts made a massive statement, even while some spectators were probably still taking their seats, with an immediate, demon scrum, burly Lions loosehead prop Jacques van Rooyen (on his 50th appearance) crumpling backwards poor Thomas du Toit, who also prefers that berth but is having to make a fist of filling the Coenie Oosthuizen void at tighthead instead.

Although the visitors clawed back a semblance of stability in that area at times afterwards, the overall Lions mastery of that set-piece was nevertheless a key influencer in the final outcome.

But with towering captain Ruan Botha to the fore as a wrecker/interceptor of the Lions’ plans on their own throw, the lineouts were monopolised by the Sharks to ensure they kept a pretty firm foothold on the contest themselves.

Both teams also left a few points out there, with flyhalves Robert du Preez (otherwise a constructive menace with his strong, flat running) and Elton Jantjies botching important place-kicks.

Perhaps the best summary of the match is to venture that the Lions did enough to serve notice that they intend being at the races right to the end again in 2018, despite some understandable suggestions that Johan Ackermann and others moving away from the franchise might see a noticeable downturn.

Having Whiteley back at both their spiritual and game-plan coalface made a big difference – the Bok captain is still short of a gallop but produced clever touches and showed customary composure and good judgement – and De Bruin and his lieutenants in the booth would have been chuffed by the emergence of some Young Turks as well.

It was tough having to start the season without seasoned wings Courtnall Skosan and Ruan Combrinck, but there was crackle and pop in abundance from rookie replacements Aphiwe Dyantyi (especially) and Sylvian Mahuza.

Both did more than enough – Dyantyi, 23, notched an early candidate for a tries-of-the-season package – to suggest that the jerseys are in sound hands until the more seasoned characters return to contention.

One concern for the gallant, ceaselessly grafting losing side was the surrender to injury during the contest of No 8 Dan du Preez (his shoulder or upper arm looked in some discomfort) and scrumhalf Cameron Wright.

Du Preez’s twin brother Jean-Luc is due back some time in March, so that is a reasonable compensating thought, but if Wright has more than a niggle, it will be a worry: the Sharks are already low on No 9s with Louis Schreuder on the crocked list.

Speaking of setbacks, Stormers mastermind Fleck has a real issue with experienced tight forwards – the lack thereof, right now – as the so-so triumph over the Jaguares saw further unsettling developments in that area.

As the Stormers prepare to set off on their three-match Australasian tour, they were already in a position, pre-Jaguares, where Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Frans Malherbe and Scarra Ntubeni couldn’t begin the campaign, and then first-choice hooker Bongi Mbonambi was a Friday pull-out for illness reasons.

Fast-emerging Bok tighthead Wilco Louw was already walking a tightrope after a hip problem, and the fact that he did not emerge for the second half at Newlands – novice Carlu Sadie fared well enough on debut – seemed to suggest all is not hunky-dory with him, either.

As things stand, and primarily because of the ongoing absence of several “hardebaarde”, the Stormers look as though they might do well to earn even one victory abroad, from dates with (in order) the Waratahs, Crusaders and Highlanders …

Next weekend’s fixtures (home teams first, all kick-offs SA time):

Friday, February 23

Highlanders v Blues – 08:35

Rebels v Reds – 10:45

Saturday, February 24

Sunwolves v Brumbies – 06:15

Crusaders v Chiefs – 08:35

Waratahs v Stormers – 10:45

Lions v Jaguares – 15:05

Bulls v Hurricanes – 17:15

Bye: Sharks

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Sport24.co.za | Kohli steers India to emphatic victory in Centurion

Cape Town – Virat Kohli put his indelible stamp on a famous Indian victory when he scored his 35th ODI century – his third in the current series – to lead his side to a decisive 5-1 victory over the Proteas following an eight-wicket victory with almost 18 overs to spare in the final ODI at SuperSport Park on Friday evening.

Scorecard: Proteas v India, 6th ODI

It has been a performance that has outshone any other international captain to come to this country.

It was only appropriate that he himself should hit the winning runs with a classic straight drive off Imran Tahir, having during the course of his innings (129 off 196 balls, 19 fours and 2 sixes) reached the milestone of more than 500 runs in the six-match series.

The only way the Proteas could defend their sub-par total of 204 after they had once again be bowled out inside the 50 overs was to take a lot of early wickets. 

However that never looked like happening as Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli put on 61 for the second wicket and then Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane a further unbeaten 126 for the third.

The fact that India hit 19 boundaries in the first 20 overs of their innings was indicative of the command they exercised over the South African attack.

The irony of the Proteas poor batting performance was the fact that this time the major damage was inflicted by the three Indian seamers rather more than the spinners with Shardul Thakur, playing his first match of the series, taking 4/52 and the three seamers seven wickets in total between them.

It was an oft repeat story for the South African batting line-up.

The only match they dominated was the one that was reduced to a virtual T20 affair but in the other contests they were unable to post big partnerships with very few individual scores of note.

India had five centuries in the series with the only reply for the Proteas coming from Faf du Plessis in his lone appearance before dropping out injured.

The one positive this evening was the way Khaya Zondo grabbed his opportunity to make his career best 54 (74 balls, 3 fours and 2 sixes).

But there could be no getting away from the fact that India outplayed the Proteas in all disciplines virtually throughout the series.

It goes without saying that Kohli was named Man of the Match and Man of the Series.

The two teams now shift towards the three-match T20I series, which starts on Sunday at the Wanderers (13:30).

Sport24.co.za | Proteas: Choppy waters … but why not now?

Cape Town – Remember all those previous periods between World Cups, when South Africa have looked a seemingly irresistible, machine-like force in one-day international cricket?

History tells us, of course, that it has done them a fat lot of good come the major tournament itself, with the national team yet to even make a final after seven cracks at the event, sometimes quite literally ending in tears for players and supporter alike.

So anyone inclined to be overly scathing of their now confirmed, comprehensive home series loss to India – whether it ends by a 1-5 or 2-4 margin after the dead-rubber closing match at SuperSport Park on Friday – might be better advised to contemplate that if you are going to have a wobble, perhaps some 15 months before CWC 2019 in England isn’t such a bad time for it, really.

It is true that the Proteas pride themselves on a strong winning record in home ODI series: they sported a win percentage of 83.33 from strictly bilateral ones – or 35 triumphs from 42 series ahead of this one.

So any blip is disappointing, and this one has also represented India’s first conquest on South African soil.

Not only that, but in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, where Virat Kohli’s charges prevailed in game five by 73 runs, they also buried their St George’s Park bogey; it was a venue where they had lost all five prior ODIs (four to SA, one to Kenya).

Especially galling is that all of India’s quartet of victories thus far have been by very decisive margins, so this series may go down statistically, whatever happens in lingering business at Centurion, as the Proteas’ most sobering yet on own terrain.

Events in the Friendly City also brought crashing back to earth with a bump any hopes that the weather-curtailed Wanderers victory on Saturday represented some kind of meaningful turnaround for South Africa.

Just three days on, their rookie-laden outfit got caught in the headlamps once more, undone for the umpteenth time at the crease by the wrist-spinning wizardry of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

Between them, they have caused mayhem across the five matches thus far, Yadav bagging 16 scalps at 11.56 and Chahal 14 at 16.00.

Both are a long way superior to the leading South African wicket-taker, the 21-year-old paceman Lungi Ngidi, who snuck ahead of Kagiso Rabada (five from five matches, at 48.40) with his career-best 4/51 in PE to reach six victims at 25.00.

Despite that lopsided state of affairs in success rates, the Proteas’ bowlers haven’t fared too badly in execution-of-duties terms; they followed up their pleasing late-innings discipline and economy at the Bullring by putting a decent enough lid on the Indian death-phase assault at St George’s Park, too.

Where once the tourists had looked ominously set to post a target well north of 300, it ended up being 275 and the Proteas might have got a lot closer to hunting it down but for the (continued) frailties of their middle- to lower-order batting – an area they definitely need to address with some urgency.

Some form of mitigation was the absence, through a back complaint, of bowling all-rounder Chris Morris, which made the tail look even more brittle on paper than it might have been on the night.

There is nothing special at this advanced stage of the series about the SA batsmen from a numbers point of view: it took Hashim Amla’s stubborn but far from flawless or smooth 71 to nudge him ahead of Faf du Plessis as leading scorer so far: 144 runs at 28.80.

Just in one innings before his unfortunate pull-out through injury, regular captain Du Plessis had scored 120.

But before we get our knickers in too much of a knot in that department, bear in mind that Du Plessis and Quinton de Kock returning to duty shortly should stabilise the frontline batting to a large degree.

In their absence, too, the cupboard of options at the crease has only increased promisingly – at a time when some regeneration is badly needed – with two bright, belligerent innings in three ODIs against the Indians from Heinrich Klaasen.

The 26-year-old wicketkeeper is not quite in De Kock’s league (not right now, anyway) for glovework, but he is competent enough at that job and also well capable both technically and temperamentally, it appears, of earning a ticket anywhere between berths five and seven just for what he offers with the willow.

It is discoveries like this that are priceless 15 months before a World Cup, even as the current dressing room hurts from the burden of thumping bilateral failure …

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Sport24.co.za | Proteas looking for early wickets

Cape Town  – Andile Phehlukwayo says the Proteas would dearly like to get early wickets to put the India middle order under pressure in the fifth ODI in Port Elizabeth.

The seam-bowling allrounder says that to date in the series the Proteas plans with the ball have not yielded the results they would have liked but he insisted their was no quit in the group.

Speaking after training at St George’s Park Phehlukwayo said: “Obviously they have been batting really well.

“It will be really nice for us to expose their middle order [early on].

“At the same time we don’t really want to look too far ahead.”

Phehlukwayo explained the thinking behind the decision to send him in ahead of Chris Morris at the Wanderers, something that paid dividends as he quickly smashed the Proteas past the revised target.

He said: “Obviously‚ the game plan changed.

“It was a left-hander for left-hander thing‚ so when David Miller got out‚ I had to go in and keep the combination going. I was told to look to be positive‚ watch the ball and execute my game plans that I have.”

The Proteas are determined to fight back in the series having lost the first three matches and will be keen to adapt to the conditions in PE faster than India.

Phehlukwayo added: “It was a game plan we had in our change room to be really positive and look to score against them. Here in PE it is obviously home conditions.

“We know the conditions very well and we train specifically for them. The guys know their individual game plans. We know we have to be really positive.

“I think the team has been really positive.

“We have obviously been training really hard. We have good momentum now from this last game. We didn’t think we were too far away from a victory.

“We have been very specific about our training and the team environment is really good.

“The setup is really positive. We have a good fighting spirit and a good culture. It’s never down and out. We always looking to fight back.

The fifth ODI between South Africa and India gets underway at 13:00 from St George’s park on Tuesday, February 3.

Sport24.co.za | Deathbed to Olympic glory for Canadian snowboarder

Pyeongchang – Eleven months ago Mark McMorris was fighting for his life after breaking 17 bones and suffering a collapsed lung and ruptured spleen in a snowboarding accident.

On Sunday he won Olympic bronze.

The 24-year-old staked an early claim for the most inspirational story at the Pyeongchang Winter Games in the snowboard slopestyle, sealing third behind compatriot Max Parrot, in silver, and Amercian teenage gold medallist Red Gerard.

McMorris’s remarkable feat after cheating death did not go unnoticed by US ski “queen” Lindsey Vonn, who tweeted a split photo, one half of the Canadian in a hospital bed with numerous tubes attached to him and the other showing him smiling and a superimposed bronze medal.

This is amazing!” Vonn tweeted to her 987 000 followers.

Talking after winning bronze, McMorris reflected on his journey from near-death to worldwide headline maker.    

“I don’t want to think too much about the past today, but I appreciate the fact I’m here on my snowboard,” he said.

“Whatever the outcome was today, just me being pumped on being able to ride a snowboard.

“I think a lot of time I need to pinch myself because now I feel so good and comfortable on my board, but eight months ago I probably didn’t think I was going to be able to snowboard at this level ever again. 

“It’s all good from my standpoint. I’m just lucky to be here.”

McMorris’s heroics were recognised by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who tweeted: “What a journey back to the podium for Mark McMorris.

Mark – your tenacity & courage inspire so many of us.

McMorris’s career had been very much on the upwards trajectory. He won bronze at Sochi 2014 and boasted numerous Winter X Games golds.

But in March 2017, McMorris, raised on the flatlands of the Canadian province Saskatchewan, sustained multiple injuries in a snowboarding accident when he hit a tree 

His multiple fractures included to his jaw, left arm, pelvis and ribs and he was placed in a medically induce coma.

McMorris survived and in his comeback to competition, a big air World Cup in Beijing in November 2017, he triumphed.

After all that, he said Sunday that bronze felt like winning gold.

“Very much so, it is really cool that I can snowboard again,” he said.

“It’s not easy. The last two years I haven’t snowboarded that much. I broke my femur and had to take six, seven months off. Then I broke it all and had to take seven months off again.”

McMorris, who could have another chapter in his story when he goes in the big air competition in Pyeongchang, added: “I’ve been really stuck in the contest scene for a while, or on a death bed, so I’m pretty stoked. 

“It does feel like a win.”

Sport24.co.za | Topless Tongan’s secret weapon against freezing cold: coconut oil

Pyeongchang – The Tongan flag-bearer’s secret has been revealed: it was coconut oil that kept him warm when he paraded half-naked at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

Pita Taufatofua braved bitter cold to go topless at the ceremony, where real-feel temperatures were down at minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit).

But while many wondered how he could march in only a traditional skirt and sandals without getting frostbite, the answer lies in the oil he had liberally applied to his torso.

“Pita secretly brought his tiny bottle of coconut oil in his pocket,” Louise Waterhouse, Tonga’s Honorary Consul in Sydney, told the Matangi Tonga Online website.

“And just before Tonga’s marching time, when the march organisers saw what Pita was doing, they were then so helpful and even gave him a little side room to keep warm immediately before the entrance to the stadium!”

Coconut oil is, apparently, a traditional Tongan remedy to ward off cold.

Taufatofua was also heavily greased up when he appeared similarly undressed at the Rio 2016 Olympics opening ceremony, causing a major stir online — and he again became a global sensation with his latest antics.

While other athletes either skipped Friday’s sub-zero ceremony, or made sure they wrapped up warm – Team USA had battery-powered, heated jackets – Taufatofua just needed his coconut oil.

“Pita’s honorary coach Thomas Jacob had his jacket in his back pack – ready to put on in the stand,” said Waterhouse, who is supporting Team Tonga in Pyeongchang.

“But Pita said to me afterwards at the athletes village: ‘I wasn’t cold walking – the coconut oil kept me warm. It was only once I was seated that I became cold,'” she added.

“He is absolutely fine and naturally chuffed that he could pull off his coup again and so proud to do it for Tonga. He has again put Tonga on the world map.”

Taufatofua competed in taekwondo in Rio, before switching to cross-country and qualifying for Pyeongchang — after a journey which included training with planks strapped to his feet in sweltering Australian heat.